julia c. bancroft apartments

To satisfy the growing demand for affordable senior housing in the rural town of Auburn, Massachusetts, the 1920s-era Julia C. Bancroft School was transformed into an affordable place for Auburn seniors to call home. Julia C. Bancroft Apartments provides 60 affordable studios, one- and two-bedroom units to people 62 and older. Four units are set aside for Community Based Housing, a program providing funding for the development of integrated housing for people with disabilities, and seven units are designated as accessible for seniors who are deaf/hard of hearing or need other sensory accommodations. Working with the Massachusetts Historical Commission, careful consideration was taken when rehabilitating the 100-year-old school building and designing the new addition. The 43,000 square foot addition was designed to complement the existing school building in size, proportion, color, materials and massing.

Auburn, MA
Date of Completion:
Project Size (Sq. ft)
58,000 SF
DiMella Shaffer
Interior Design Firm:
Builders Design
NEI General Contracting

The common room links the historic building with the new wings and provides indoor/outdoor connections for residents. Classroom doors from the historic school were restored and repurposed throughout the addition. Original doors are functional and used as art paying homage to the building’s original use.

The inspiration came from the original historic 1920s-era school building. The project leaned into the aesthetic of the former Julia C. Bancroft School by designing the addition in a way that broke down the massing into two wings complementary in color, exterior material, and volume, building upon the relationship between the historic building and the new additions that now fit seamlessly together. Original hardwood flooring, trim, and chalkboards are seen in the light-filled “classroom” one-bedroom units.